And there was me thinking pleasant surprises at the movies didn’t exist anymore.
What’s this… Neeson… looking run down… family member in trouble… has a particular set of skills… it’s as if we have seen it before…
Run All Night brings Liam Neeson as drunk dead beat ex Irish mob hit-man ‘Jimmy’ estranged from his son (Joel Kinnaman) who ends up saving his life when the son of his best friend (mob boss Ed Harris) tries to kill him. Neeson tells his son to give him one night to try and fix things and if he fails he’ll sacrifice himself. So then we have a lovely New York night of corrupt police, hit men and old associates all trying to kill poor Jimmy and his family.
- Neeson + Harris have some good on-screen chemistry. Their life long friendship is explored well enough and you can feel the strain Neeson has had on Harris with a few touching moments. It’s not often easy to humanise characters that are inherently bad but the way Neeson/Harris play of each other makes it work. To be fair this is also the best acting I’ve seen from Joel Kinnaman so far, not sure he can do anything other than this sort of role but he was effective,
- After the opening 30 minutes of setting the film up it has a really good pace and uses a variety of different set pieces, the best being a fight with Neeson in a tower block that is burning down. It’s also nice to see a film try something different with transitioning from scene to scene. I thought the way the camera zoomed out of one scene to a panoramic view of the cuty and then trace to where the next scene was worked well (bar one bit of shoddy CGI),
- For once we see Neeson is not invincible and takes his fair share of beatings during the course of all the ass-kickery,
- The way the story explored the Neeson/Kinnaman relationship post action was effective as it had them at their most vulnerable, there was a visible strain from father to son.
- The only time we see the father/son relationship explored not post action it just felt awkward, forced and fake (I’m looking at you random car scene in middle of movie),
- Rapper Common plays this high tech hit-man who just feels out of place. He uses this Google glasses type location device and has a laser sighting on his pistol and in a film where its almost completely centred around old school mentality his character is just one big misstep. Also as one of my learned friends pointed out, for a hit-man who’s meant to be one of the best around… he makes terrible decisions when it comes to trying to kill Neeson. What would have been nice instead is if we could have found out why he hated Neeson’s character so much, alas… no motive can be found.
- The climatic scene between Harris/Neeson just didn’t have the tension it should have. The film is at such a pace that when it’s slowed down it’s just not as memorable and dull in comparison to some other moments,
- Given that Neeson was fallible in this there was one scene where he blows everyone away and doesn’t get a scratch, it all just felt too easy for someone who had taken a nights worth of punishment… but this was the only case.
This film should have been Taken 2, family members and Liam Neeson just don’t seem to end well but at least here we have a fast paced pretty interesting action flick. Easily director Jaume Collet-Sarra’s best work (others include Non-Stop/Unknown/Orphan/House of Wax) he brings a lot of fun action to the dark tone of this New York gang action flick without turning to cliché’s. Could have easily gone the way of other straight to DVD features but definitely one of the better and more solid ones of its genre recently.